Here to help

Supporting colleagues following a bereavement or illness of a loved one

The unpredictability of life means we can never be sure how soon or how often we might face the bereavement or illness of a loved one, particularly during these difficult times.

There is no right or wrong way to react in these situations. People are affected by grief in different ways. It is perfectly normal that even when people feel they are adjusting to the loss of a loved one, they may experience subsequent moments of setback.

Some of these feelings and reactions may include anger, denial, depression, lack of confidence, fear, guilt, shock, and despair. It goes without saying that we should all do what we can to help by offering the time and understanding that may be needed.

Colleagues should always receive a professional and sensitive approach, paying particular attention to cultural diversity and any special needs that may become apparent.

How can I help?

  • Acknowledge a person’s grief - A simple ‘I am sorry for your loss’ will make them aware that you empathise with their loss. Do not let your own discomfort prevent you from acknowledging their loss. Ensure you convey that you are genuinely empathetic. 
  • Encourage talking - It may be helpful to talk through feelings and memories. If a person does not feel like talking, that is ok too, but it is important that they do not become too isolated.
  • Ask what, if anything, they would like their colleagues to be told - This may be particularly helpful if a death or illness was sudden and traumatic. Colleagues may be concerned about what to say. You can help ease this if you have spoken to the person and are aware of their wishes.
  • Financial pressures – appreciate the practical and financial consequences at this time. These may include accommodation issues, childcare and support difficulties, financial pressures and legal issues (see below).
  • Access support – Are you aware of our First Class Support helpline (details below). You cn also speak to your GP if your distress becomes overwhelming.

Help is available

Our First Class Support service via 0345 266 5060 or offers a fully confidential 24/7 professional support service for colleagues.

Our in-house charity, the Rowland Hill Fund can be reached on 0345 600 4586 or The Fund offers financial aid to colleagues, pensioners and their families in times of need.

Stepchange offers expert, tailored advice and practical solutions to debt problems. Contact the UK’s leading debt charity on 0800 138 1111 or visit

29 Jun 2020